Dream Hunter Interview: Fiona Sandford,Running for a Cause

Across the café table, sipping her healthy smoothie, sits Fiona Sandford(FS). Fiona is a 25 year old native from Rotarua, New Zealand who has battled and triumphed over a disease that many in society are afraid to even admit to- Depression.
After landing in Rotarua, in the middle of New Zealand’s North island, I made my way to the District Council office to inquire about local Dream Declarers. Fiona’s name immediately came up as she had recently given an inspiration talk to a wide audience of colleagues about her battle with depression and her goal of conquering the Coast to Coast race, not only to surpass her personal goals but also as a way to bring attention to this much needed cause. Here’s Fiona’s story and message:

Fiona gearing up for Coast to Coast

Fiona gearing up for Coast to Coast

(TD) What experience in your life most shaped who are you now?
(FS) The depression that I battled for 5 years. At university my whole life was getting up, studying, going to bed and doing it all over again. It was my mom who noticed my change in behavior and depression first. I started to find it tough to get up in the morning, I was crying all the time, I couldn’t sleep. It passed in time but the same symptoms resurfaced again one year later in winter. I went to see a psychologist again and then started antidepressants. Talking about my depression along with the antidepressants really worked. I’ve never been so happy now. I spent so long hiding it and now, I’m happy to share my story.

(TD) What’s the stigma around depression today?
(FS) The stigma around depression today is to ‘ toughen up, get over it.’ But, in reality, it’s so much more than bad days strung together. It’s a mental space in your head that you can’t get out of it. It’s a disease- just like asthma or diabetes. Some people need therapy, some need antidepressants, some need both.

(TD) If I handed you a loudspeaker right now, what’s the message you’d want to say through it?
(FS) I want people to know that depression is more common than people think. It doesn’t change who you are. It’s not something that needs to be hidden, it’s nothing to be ashamed or scared of. People will work through it.

(TD) What are you most grateful for today?
(FS) Friends and family. Especially my family- they’re amazing. And my partner, he’s been amazing. This whole thing made us so much closer.

(TD) What food could you live on forever?
(FS) Italian- most pastas especially ravoli. Yum.

(TD) If you could meet on of your idols tomorrow for one hour- who would it be and what would you do?
(FS) (Fiona’s eyes light up) Richard Ussher, top NZ multisport athlete. I’d grill him- how he does it, what I could do better etc. I’d ask him to show me how to run better. An hour wouldn’t be enough, I’d need a week with him.

(TD) If you would magically be granted one superpower, what would it be?
(FS) Flight. I want to look at everything! I want to see things from a different angle!

(TD) If your younger self walked into the room right now, what advice would you give her/Him?
(FS) Chill out and enjoy the moment a little more. Don’t stress about the little stuff. I’d remind myself that what I’m doing can help someone else then it becomes the motivation to keep going.

(TD) What are your personal definitions of Doings vs Being?
(FS) Being is the emotional side of life. Being happy and caring. Doing is the physical side of life. Random acts of kindness.

(TD) Can you please share with us one of your dreams or aspirations?
(FS) Finishing the Coast to Coast, a global 247km event from West to East coast of South Island which includes 3 sports in less than 16hours. I’m planning on doing it in less than 16 hrs in 1 day. It’s for personal satisfaction to beat my time goal and I want to do it uninjured.
I’m fundraising for LifeLine- they are non profit organization helpline for alcoholism, gambling, abuse, depression etc. If I can help them help others, it’s aligned with what I want to do and its getting the message out there. Help is out there. Talking can help. This purpose is giving me the motivation to run this in less than 16hrs over 1 day. I’m not doing this just for me anymore.

(TD) What is your legacy?
(FS) Doing what I can to help people where I’ve been. If I can help even just one person, it counts.

To contact, read her story or support Fiona in the Coast to Coast race, go check out Fiona’s blog: www.fjsandford.wordpress.com/about

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